Moody Gardens Recognizes Six Outstanding Animal Care Professionals

Zookeeper WEEK.Logo 2006 VThis week is National Zookeeper Week and Moody Garden’s Life Science and Exhibit Operations department has taken this opportunity to recognize the dedication and hard work that goes into this challenging career path. Moody Gardens would like to thank each and every person on our team for providing the highest level of animal care and well-being while creating personal connections between our guests and our conservation, education and research efforts. The LSEO management team recognized 6 individuals with outstanding animal professional awards. These employees have had a significant impact on Moody Gardens through outstanding dedication, competence, conscientious performance, excellence in engaging guests and ingenuity.

The 2015 Outstanding Animal Care Professionals are: Dave Brossette, T’Noya Gonzales, Karen Holcroft, Marci Kurtz, Maggie Reynolds and Sean Salinger. As evidenced by their dedication to their job, only 3 recipients were present at the awards lunch on Tuesday, 21 July as duty called the others away.

Marci Kurtz, Sean Salinger and T’Noya Gonzales receive their recognition.
Marci Kurtz, Sean Salinger and T’Noya Gonzales receive their recognition.

Taveta Golden Weavers

Taveta Golden Weavers – Rainforest Pyramid

A group of 22 Taveta Golden Weavers are the newest addition to the Rainforest Pyramid! This small, yellow bird is an African (Kenya and Tanzania) species of songbird that weaves oval shaped nests. The males are the nest builders and they usually are colonial nesters. Females pick a mate based on the male’s skill at weaving. The males are already making themselves at home and are working on more than 3 different nests at the moment. Make sure to look up and see if you can spot them next time you visit the Rainforest Pyramid!

MG Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt!

With its peaceful foliage in the Rainforest Pyramid and beautiful marine life in the Aquarium Pyramid, Moody Gardens is a great place to spend this Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart or family.

VDAY_ScavengerHunt_2015While you are at Moody Gardens, you can participate in the Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt. Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom with this scavenger hunt. And best of all, you could earn a family 4-pack of Moody Gardens tickets by participating.

Here are some of the facts you will learn while participating in the scavenger hunt:

  • Humans aren’t the only ones that give presents when they are wooing a lady. Male penguins give their potential love interests a pebble. They search for the smoothest rock, and if the female accepts, she puts it in her nest and parenthood soon follows.
  • When piranhas find themselves in love, they turn almost completely black to discourage others from courting. Think of it as a clear sign of “Hey, I’m taken.”
  • Some women wish men would experience the ups and downs of pregnancy. In the seahorse kingdom that’s exactly what happens, as the male delivers the babies. Scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why it occurs – maybe it is to help make more babies or just share some of the load from females – but it certainly is one of the most unique relationships under the sea.
  • A scarlet ibis believes in true love. When a male successful woes a female, they will remain partners for life.
  • Harbor seals flirt by rolling and bubble-blowing. You can read about our Moody Gardens harbor seal couple, Porter and Presley, here.

Learn about these and the other animals at Moody Gardens when you visit on Valentine’s Day weekend. Be sure to download the Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt and get your cameras ready to win a great prize!

And don’t forget to dive into a romantic underwater dining experience at the Aquarium Pyramid with the Sea of Love Valentine’s Dinner on Feb. 13 or 14.

Enjoy a special menu created exclusively for the Sea of Love Dinner. You can reserve a table with a view of one of the unique locations throughout the Aquarium Pyramid.

Dinner for two is $140 on Friday and $180 on Saturday. It also includes rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. Saturday’s dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne. Biologists will also be in attendance to answer any questions you may have about the spectacular residents of the Aquarium Pyramid.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily. RSVP by February 11. Click here for menus.

Sweethearts of the North Pacific: Presley and Porter

Porter-&-Presley

One of the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid’s most famous couples is Porter and Presley. These harbor seals met in 2006 and immediately became inseparable.

porter
Porter, male Harbor Seal

Porter, who was rescued as a pup off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had excellent care by the staff at Marine Animal Lifeline Rehabilitation Center, where unfortunately an infection caused him to lose his eye.

Porter would not hunt the live fish that he was offered, and biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Since he was unable to be released, a search for a new home for him began and Moody Gardens created a home for him at the Aquarium Pyramid.

Young Presley in 2006
Young Presley in 2006

Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family. After her companion at the Memphis Zoo passed away, caretakers knew the young harbor seal needed a companion. Even though Porter had fur seals and sea lions in his North Pacific Exhibit, the addition of Presley provided better companionship. Two habor seals together provided a more natural situation and made future breeding an option.

In 2011, Porter and Presley had a pup named Riley, after the former President of Moody Gardens Mike Riley. The couple had conceived in the past, but that was their first successful birth.

Presley-&-Rylie
Presley and pup Riley

The newborn seal and first-time mother Presley spent their time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit. Riley has since moved to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, where she has two young males to hang out with and possibly have pups of her own.

You can visit Presley and Porter at the Sea of Love Valentine’s Day dinner on Feb. 13 and 14. This romantic dinner includes a three-course meal, rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. The Feb. 14 dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne.

For prices, visit www.moodygardens.com/calendar/aqvalentines.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily between 3-4 p.m. RSVP by February 11, 2015.

Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures: The Ice

One of the first challenges when creating ICE LAND was where to find 900 tons of ice. That’s not exactly something you can make in your refrigerator using an ice cube tray.

To create the ice, Moody Gardens enlisted the services of Flying Penguin Ice in Bryan, Texas.
To create the ice, Moody Gardens enlisted the services of Flying Penguin Ice in Bryan, Texas.
Creating the ice wasn’t a simple process. First the colors had to be mixed in some of the biggest ice cube trays you will ever see.
Creating the ice wasn’t a simple process. First the colors had to be mixed in some of the biggest ice cube trays you will ever see.
After several of days freezing, the ice was removed…
After several of days freezing, the ice was removed…
The color was tested…
The color was tested…
Clear block of ice
Clear block of ice
And it was shaved to the proper size.
Blocks were shaved to the proper size.
They made it as smooth as possible
They made it as smooth as possible
One of the many trucks ready to take ice to storage area
One of the many trucks ready to take ice to storage area
It took several days and 42 truck loads to bring all 6,000 blocks of ice to Galveston.
It took several days and 42 truck loads to bring all 6,000 blocks of ice to Galveston.
Moody Gardens staff unloaded the ice
Moody Gardens staff unloaded the ice
The giant tent was quickly filled with pallet upon pallet of ice.
The giant tent was quickly filled with pallet upon pallet of ice.
By the end, some of the ice was stacked up as high as five levels.
By the end, some of the ice was stacked up as high as five levels.

Stay tuned for our next Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures blog series! We’ll be taking a look at how a 28,000 square foot tent is built from the ground up.

ICE LAND will be a frosty new addition to the Festival of Lights and other holiday attractions this year as Galveston makes its holiday transition into a Winter Wonder Island. Admission to the exhibit is $26.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $15.95 for children, and will also be included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass that includes admission to the various Moody Gardens attractions and Festival of Lights for $59.95. A two-day pass is available for $79.95. Courtesy parkas will also be distributed to each guest. Visit moodygardens.org/iceland for more information and to purchase tickets. 

#MGSharkQuest

Find the MG Shark Spots around property, marked by a fin, during Shark U Week and take a picture at each location. Upload to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MGSharkQuest to be entered to win a behind-the-scenes shark tour for up to 4 people.

CLICK HERE to download clues

Here’s how the shark quest is going so far:


Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, July 19!

IMG_0005

Galveston is the Winter Wonder Island of Texas, and this season the island will offer visitors more than 1,000 magical holiday events! This summer, be sure to visit with Santa at a variety of events throughout the island. You’ll also have the chance to win some cool prizes by participating in Galveston’s Photo Contest.

GALVESTON ISLAND PHOTO CONTEST, 2 – 6 PM:

It’s Christmas Around the World as Santa travels from the North Pacific to South Pacific in the Aquarium Pyramid to Asia, Africa and the Americas in the Rainforest Pyramid and Palm Beach. Free Santa Hats are available as supplies last. Get your picture and go to Galveston.com/holiday to register for prizes! Stop by the Garden Lobby with the kids and enjoy some free Arts & Crafts activities from 2 – 4 p.m. as well.

snowmanlSNOWMAN SAND CASTLE COMPETITION, 2 – 4 PM:

A few slots remain, so register now to participate in our Snowman Sand Castle Competition on July 19 at Palm Beach. Participants will receive a Snowman Sand Castle Building Kit, then will have until 3:45 p.m. to build their very best snowman. Judging will begin at 3:45 p.m. and winner will be announced at 4 p.m. The winner will receive a Penguin Encounter Certificate for 4 people and tickets to all Moody Gardens Attractions (Including ICE LAND Ice Sculptures, Festival of Lights and Arctic Ice Slide) for 4 people.

CLICK HERE for complete rules and to register for the competition (limited spots available)

GET SOCIAL & WIN PRIZES WITH #CHRISTMASINJULY:

Celebrate Christmas in July by connecting with us through Social Media and you’ll get the chance to win a Holiday Four-Pack to Moody Gardens, which includes tickets to all attractions as well as the ICE LAND Ice Sculptures opening November 15, 2014.

TO PARTICIPATE: Visit our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram each week in July and participate in our Christmas in July trivia questions by using the handle @moodygardens and the hashtag #ChristmasInJuly. If you answer correctly you will be entered into our weekly drawing. Remember to use our handle and hashtag!

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc., Twitter, Inc. or Instagram, Inc. Must be 18 years or older to win.

IMG_9984JOIN US THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

ICE LAND Ice Sculptures makes its debut November 15 – January 4 for the first time in South Texas. Marvel at the artistry of the internationally acclaimed VGA Ice Carving Team from Harbin, China, as they bring their extraordinary talent to sculpt 900 tons of ice into a vast and amazing display of towering ice sculptures held at a cool and constant 9 degrees as Galveston makes its transformation into the Winter Wonder Island. There is more than ever for your family to enjoy! Be among the first to experience the ICE LAND Ice Sculptures attraction, Festival of Lights, Arctic Ice Slide, Ice Skating, holiday films and much more!

 

Moody Madness: Final 4

Stunning.

That’s the best word to describe the voting results for the Moody Madness Elite Eight.

Both top seeds, the Saki Monkey and the King Penguin, saw their chances of being named Moody Gardens’ favorite animal end in shocking results. The loss was especially tough for the King Penguin, which was defeated by just three votes.

Here were the final Elite Eight results:

MoodyMadnessBracket_Final4_Web

So we are down to the Final Four. Who will be the champion of the Rainforest and Aquarium Pyramids? That’s for you to determine!

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for your favorites!

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Moody Madness: Elite 8

The Sweet Sixteen of the Moody Madness tournament saw most of the top seeds move on, with the exception of two upsets.

The Cinderella story of the tournament to determine the most popular animal at Moody Gardens continues to be the Two-Toed Sloth. After a surprise win over the Cotton-Top Tamarin, the Sloth pulled out a stunning victory over the Komodo Dragon.

Can the Sloth continue its improbably run against the Giant River Otter? Can the top-seeded White-faced Saki Monkey and King Penguin continue their march to the Final Four? That’s up to you to decide.

Click the image below to see the results from the Sweet 16 round:

MoodyMadnessBracket_Elite8_Web

 

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for your favorites!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Shark U Week: Know Your Sharks

How well do you know your sharks? Odds are most people only know the sharks that have been portrayed as vicious killers in Hollywood thrillers, such as the mighty great white shark in the 1975 blockbuster hit “JAWS.” But the truth is there are over 400 different types of sharks in our oceans and aquariums all over the world and, despite all the horror stories, sharks do not eat people.

Sharks come in all sizes from the massive whale shark, reaching lengths of 30 feet, to the dwarf lanternfish that’s less than 10 inches. Being able to tell the hammerhead from the nurse shark is quite easy, but others can be difficult. Can you spot the difference between a leopard shark and tiger shark?

How can you tell one from the other?

IT’S ALL IN THE BITE:

IMG_5603Sharks’ teeth are adapted for what they eat. Sharks like the great white and tiger shark have triangular teeth with jagged edges. This keeps hold of larger fish and animals, tear chunks of meat or slice through a turtle’s shell. A sand tiger’s teeth, on the other hand, are long and narrow which make them look frightening, but in fact these types of sharks are not very aggressive. The shape of their teeth is ideal for grabbing a hold of prey. However, the whale shark has very small teeth and it’s not used for biting because they simply filter their food.

SHARK MARKS:

IMG_5627Coloration and patterns play an important role in identifying a shark. Their special marks allow them to camouflage perfectly into their environment. Mako sharks, for example, inhabit tropical and offshore water and are normally a bluish color. On the other hand, the nurse shark has a tan pigmentation ideal for hiding on the ocean’s floor. Tiger sharks can be identified by their stripes and leopard sharks for their spots.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

Know the sharks that lurk in the water. Sharks can be found all over the world from the warm waters of the Caribbean to the freezing temperatures of the arctic. The Gulf of Mexico alone houses more than 50 different species of sharks including, on the rare occasions, the great white shark. The bull shark and blacktip shark are quite common off the shores of Galveston while the Caribbean reef shark is obviously in the Caribbean.